Foundation for Rural & Regional Renewal (FRRR)

Following the February 2022 floods and the devastation experienced by community members within and surrounding Kin Kin, in southern Queensland, the Kin Kin Community Group (KKCG) shifted its focus towards future planning and the inevitable impacts of another natural disaster on their community. They aim to be better prepared with improved emergency systems to enable their people to operate more efficiently and effectively.

Kin Kin is a secluded southern Queensland hinterland community situated in the Noosa Council area, near its boundary with the Gympie Council. The town has very limited essential services, with only a single general store and café. The February 2022 floods took the town by surprise and left the community fending for themselves. There was no community-friendly meeting place or emergency response centre and the community was cut off by floodwaters for days. No one could enter or leave except by a helicopter from the oval. Food supplies depleted rapidly and communication was hampered, leaving the community in the dark about the ongoing situation. For four days there was limited telecommunication, making the community members feel even more isolated.

KKCG is dedicated to representing and promoting the Kin Kin community, and it was to this organisation that the community turned during their time of distress. The Group operates on behalf of the community, seeking opportunities, positive change and growth for its people. The volunteers are doing all that they can to ensure the community is prepared and supported for the future.

The effects of the 2022 flood events underscored the need for an Emergency Response hub, a place where volunteers and community can gather, to connect, communicate and plan together. The situation also highlighted the scarcity of resources available to support volunteers, including drinking water and first aid equipment. It emphasised the community’s risk areas and disadvantages, illustrating the need for better preparedness in the future.

Fortunately, the KKCG received a grant of $25,000 from the Rebuilding Futures program, funded by the Suncorp Group. This enabled the KKCG to purchase equipment and carry out activities to enhance the community’s safety, connection, resilience and wellbeing. This includes establishing a community hub that is publicly accessible at all times, including during natural disasters, and serves to provide comfort, connection, safety and distribution of essential resources within the community.

People kneeling down learning first aid on dummies, with computer in the background.

Specifically, the funds went toward essential office equipment such as computers, phones, an air conditioner, a printer, WiFi, first aid kit, a defibrillator, an emergency water supply and a community noticeboard. These resources aid in improving communication and growth within the community. The notice board displays disaster information and preparedness material from the Council and the Queensland Government, designed to better inform the community about disaster preparedness strategies. Furniture was also purchased, to make the space usable for community workshops and events that foster wellbeing and community connection. A recent example of such an event was a free first aid training day hosted by the KKCG. This workshop equipped volunteers with the skills to use the new first aid equipment and defibrillator in case of an emergency.

To combat volunteer fatigue and acknowledge the efforts of the Kin Kin volunteers, a ‘Volunteer Care Program’ was established. This program involves a monthly wellbeing initiative, allowing volunteers and community members to come together and connect. It bolsters the resilience and spirit of the community, fostering a sense of belonging and readiness to support others in times of need. The Community Hub is now equipped to meet the needs of the community in times of distress, with essential community resources and communication strategies focussed on supporting the overall health and wellbeing of the community. The hub, and volunteers who dedicate their time there, ensure that the local people, environment, culture and celebrations are embraced, fostering goodwill and prosperity. Indeed, it is the people and volunteers who have made Kin Kin an even more appealing and positive place to live.